The site of a former wastewater treatment plant near Pen Park is under consideration for the construction of 204 homes in both Albemarle County and Charlottesville.
“First and foremost in our approach to residential development is the creation of a neighborhood ,” said L.J. Lopez of Milestone Partners, the developer of the proposed Lochlyn Hill. “We want to create a sense of place and a sense of community.”
Lopez briefed the Charlottesville Planning Commission on Tuesday on preliminary plans for Lochlyn Hill, which will require a rezoning of 25.6 acres in the city to “ planned unit development .”
Development on 11 acres in Albemarle would be by-right. The development would consist of single-family homes, cottages and townhomes.
The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority sold the Meadowcreek Wastewater Treatment Plant in 1996 to Meadowcreek LLC for residential development. Lopez said the property has gone through environmental remediation following the plant’s closure.
Lopez said development would occur over many years through several phases. A large village green would be located in the center of the development and 15 percent of the units would be designated as affordable.
“Our objective is to partner with existing nonprofits in our area that have expertise and are closer in touch with the affordable housing buyer,” Lopez said.
Lochlyn Hill would only be accessible via Pen Park Lane and Vegas Court, both roads in Albemarle. Lopez said improvements would be made to Pen Park Lane to allow it to handle the additional traffic. A series of trails would connect to the city’s existing parks system.
“Inherent in this site is location,” Lopez said. “It has access to existing infrastructure, amenities and features of the city of Charlottesville.”
Commissioner John Santoski was concerned about neighborhood residents potentially being stranded because the only vehicular access would be through Pen Park Lane. Vegas Court is a cul-de-sac off that road.
“If there were to be something that happens at Rio Road and Pen Park Lane, basically everyone in there would be land-locked,” Santoski said.
Commissioner Lisa Green encouraged Lopez to further interconnect Lochlyn Hill with the city.
“In the city, what makes a neighborhood is [people] getting out and walking to the Downtown Mall,” Green said. “Although I applaud all the well-thought-out improvements to the trails, people want to walk to their jobs downtown and I’m not so sure they’re going to do that through the woods.”
Lopez said he would try to explore more options, but that further vehicular access points were unlikely.
Two members of the public asked the commission to consider the area as a possible route for the Eastern Connector , a long-proposed road that stalled in the development process due to concerns that one route would have passed through Pen Park.
“The [Metropolitan Planning Organization] is again actively considering this road in its long-range transportation plan update,” said Bruce Odell , of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Transportation Plan Citizen Advisory Committee . “There are very few pathways for a new road close in to the city.”
Odell said the road could travel across this land, cross the Rivanna River and pass south of Darden-Towe Park by the Elk’s Drive. He asked for the developer to defer plans until further study of the road is conducted.
“I don’t think we’ve seen or heard anything about our property [being affected],” said developer Frank Stoner , who is also working with Milestone Partners on the project.
The Planning Commission’s public hearing for the rezoning for Lochlyn Hill will be held in May.
In other news, the commission voted 7-0 to recommended approval of a special-use permit to allow the firm HemoShear to operate a 10,000-square-foot biotech testing lab at 2211 Hydraulic Road . The company specifically tests blood cells for pharmaceutical research.
The company currently operates in an 8,000-square-foot facility on Fifth Street Extended but the firm needs more room for expansion.
“Biotech is the fastest growing segment of innovation in this area,” said William Dittmar, the owner of the office building. “They are already located in a neighborhood not too dissimilar to the one they will be relocating to … They’re exactly what we’re looking for in this market.”
While no one spoke in opposition during the public hearing, one neighboring resident notified the commission in writing that she was concerned that the proposed use would clear the way for additional “invasive and dangerous medical testing facilities.”
“Hemoshear [officials] assure staff that they have a standard removal company come and remove their waste every other week,” said city planner Michael Smith. “They also comply with [federal] requirements.”
Mayor Satyendra Huja said he supports the company, but was concerned that future expansions on site could impact the adjacent Meadows neighborhood .
Planning Manager Missy Creasy said any expansion of the building would have to come before the city for approval. That would provide an opportunity to mitigate those impacts should the company need to do so.